The real Great Gatsby locations
Those going in search of the filming locations for Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby will find themselves a long, long way from the east coast of America.
The film adaptation, which will open the Cannes Film Festival tomorrow, was directed by the flamboyant Australian director whose previous work includes Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet and Strictly Ballroom.
Instead of using New York and Long Island, where much of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel was set, Lurhmann followed the same principles as he did for those films, and used his home country of Australia – or more particularly his home city of Sydney – as much as possible.
The “Valley of Ashes”, the desolate stretch of land located between New York and West Egg, is actually in Balmain, in the Inner West of Sydney. Although a rapidly gentrifying and trendy part of the city, Balmain has a strong industrial past. It was deemed the right place to represent the following extract from F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel.
“About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes.”
The White Bay Power Station in Rozelle was also used to portray the same place.
Much more sumptuous, Gatsby’s Estate – found in Long Island in the novel – is actually represented by pretty Centennial Park, one of Sydney’s most popular recreational areas. Cook Road in Centennial Park doubles as the entrance to Gatsby’s mansion.
The Gatsby mansion in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation has a far more prosaic function in real life, as the Manly Business School in Manly, on Sydney’s North Shore. Known as St. Patrick’s Seminary, the building represents the fabulously opulent exterior of Gatsby’s home. Palm trees in the area had to be temporarily removed to give the semblance of east coast USA.
Glebe Island, once a major port in Sydney, was taken over by old-fashioned cars and Hollywood actors for general scenes.
Filming wasn't confined to Sydney: the cast were also taken out to the Blue Mountains, the wilderness area popular with day-trippers and hikers, just an hour or so away from the city.
And finally the funeral scenes were shot at the beautifully located Waverly Cemetery.
Far from being the resting places of East Coast America's wealthy elite, it is actually where many influential Australian politicians and businessmen are buried. It is a stop off on the wonderful Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.
Jolyon Attwooll Telegraph.co.uk